Fri, 11 Aug 2006
Colleagues and friends,
As the situation in Oaxaca descends into armed
violence against the striking teachers and the
popular movement, I am writing to ask your advice.
What can and should we, as U.S. educators and
concerned human beings, do NOW to support the Oaxacan
teachers and the broader popular movement for social,
educational and governmental reform they have sparked?
Can we join together immediately in some way to
collectively and publicly express outrage at the armed
and violent repression being unleashed on the Oaxacan
teachers and the popular movement at this moment?
BRIEF UPDATE: Federal police have now moved into
Oaxaca to augment state police, some of whom refuse any
longer to take up arms against the masses of people
who have risen up to demand the removal of the
governor and a complete overhaul of the governmental
institutions that have repressed them for decades.
In the last few days there have been several teachers
killed, wounded, and disappeared. The Teachers Union
and the popular movement hold the state and the
federal government responsible for these violent
acts. According to teachers in Oaxaca, the federal and
state governments are united in their determination
to put down the popular movement and break the teachers'
strike with an iron fist. They are employing covert,
"dirty war" tactics.
ACTIONS: Teachers in a few cities (e.g. New York, San
Francisco, Seattle) had demonstrations outside Mexican
consulates earlier in the summer when the situation was
not yet so widespread and violent. These public displays of
support were reported to the movement in Oaxaca and left a
big impact. A network of activist teachers in LA is now
planning a press conference in support of the teachers in
front of the Mexican consulate. The LA group is also
planning more demonstrations, and they have
attempted to conduct live telephone interviews on public
radio with Oaxacan teacher leaders. Both national
teachers unions (AFT and NEA) passed resolutions in
support of the Oaxacan teachers and promised some resources. Some
of us have tried to interest mainstream English- and
Spanish-language media in reporting the Oaxaca happenings
and the excalating violence, with only minimal success.
In New Mexico, there are plans developing for information/
discussion sessions this fall, and hopefully a speaking
tour by Oaxacan strike leaders, in November if possible.
URGENT NEED NOW: Actions in support of the movement, and
denunciations against the government violence, are urgently
needed IMMEDIATELY. Seccion XXII (the teachers union in Oaxaca)
and the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) who
together lead the movement, are calling for emergency support
from all Mexican and international unions and workers,
Can we think together and act together FAST in support
of our Oaxacan colleagues? What could our action or actions be?
Should we draft and circulate a petition to send to Mexican federal
and Oaxacan state leaders? Should the pressure be on our own
Congressional delegations, to investigate the Oaxaca happenings and
to speak out against this repression in neighboring (and NAFTA
partner) Mexico? Are local demonstrations and press conferences
at Mexican consulates the most powerful route? Are we willing to
come out for such demonstrations? How do we "crack" the media silence?
Are there more, and more powerful, ideas?
Before I went to Oaxaca in June, I spoke with many of you about
possible future collaborations with my indigenous colleagues there.
Many of you expressed interest. There is no question that
the collaboration Oaxacan teachers need from us right now is
active, vocal and immediate support for their lengthy and increasingly
dangerous struggle. Lois
Lois M. Meyer, Ph.D.
Language, Literacy & Sociocultural Studies
College of Education
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131